Global Exports from African Businesses Increases by 50%, Spearheaded by Women


ANKA, the ”all in one” Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for African businesses, has announced the publication of a white paper in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) through their Fashionomics Africa Program, entitled Global African Commerce. The report, an updated extension of ANKA’s 2018 edition, offers a holistic global analysis of the state of African e-commerce; covering the entire entrepreneurial journey from product creation to international delivery. The report delves into millions of data points from interactions with global consumers to encourage conversations around the stellar growth of African entrepreneurship. 

The company has also announced the launch of the “ANKA Growth Club” – a  transformative program designed to support small and medium-sized businesses looking to export products to the USA in partnership with Prosper Africa. 

Global African Commerce is a quantitative resource for the African e-commerce landscape, shedding light on the unique barriers and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs on the continent. One of the most striking research findings is the significant impact on job creation. Entrepreneurs using the platform have experienced substantial growth in their businesses, expanding their teams by a staggering 50% – fostering job opportunities and demonstrating the platform’s capacity to drive job growth. 

With a continental median age of 18.8 years, ANKA’s white paper highlights how the platform is opening up new opportunities in the job market for youth employment. 

With over 72% of ANKA’s sellers identifying as women, it is quickly becoming the de facto platform for women entrepreneurs and a source of insight into their experiences in leading small and medium-sized businesses. Touching on the impact African commerce is having on global exports, the white paper highlights that 50% of entrepreneurs ship their products through the platform (via ANKA’s landmark partnership with DHL), arguably making ANKA the largest African exporter of goods.

Other key highlights from the white paper include: 

  • The revelation that by utilising machine learning techniques, merchants were able to increase visits to their site but offering discounts did not correlate to an increase in sales – surprisingly the only behaviour that doubles the chance of selling a product is to regularly update it! 
  • The possibilities of ‘stockless’ selling through developing a deep and nuanced understanding of customers, making continuous product improvements, and adapting to market demands.
  • A dive into the collaborative opportunities available for businesses to improve payment methods and shipping offers, essential to enhancing efficiency and resilience against fraud.

While the white paper highlights the growth of the African e-commerce sector, it does not shy away from highlighting the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs, identifying that 59.7% of women entrepreneurs and SME owners across the continent cite limited access to finance as the primary barrier to hindering their growth ambitions. This crucial data underscores the urgent need for targeted support and solutions to address the disparity. 

Therefore in alignment with its commitment to SME empowerment, The “ANKA Growth Club” was created to support entrepreneurs, especially women, who are often overtrained and underfunded. 

It will offer an array of actions and opportunities, including physical (through US pop-ups) and digital exposure,  financing solutions through loans of up to USD 75,000, mentorship from industry experts, and a robust community of same-level entrepreneurs dedicated to achieving exceptional growth.

Speaking on the launch of the white paper and the ANKA Growth Club, Moulaye Tabouré, ANKA’s CEO and Co-Founder said, ‘I am very excited to share this as a starting point for more efficient collaborations and actions. Our commitment to empowering African businesses goes beyond rhetoric; it’s at the core of our company’s mission. That is why this white paper is not just a report, it’s a game-changer, providing a unique and unparalleled perspective; helping us redefine the e-commerce landscape, empower women and unlock the full potential of African creativity and entrepreneurship”.

He continues, “The ANKA Growth Club represents a significant step forward in our mission to facilitate access of SMEs to global markets. The US market represents a huge opportunity for African entrepreneurs to reach new customers and continue growing their business. Through the ‘ANKA Growth Club,’ we’re not just providing support; we’re fostering opportunities, knowledge, and connections that will drive economic growth and innovation. Together, we’ll open doors and pave the way for a new era of African business on the global stage”.

Offering a wealth of insights for entrepreneurs through its actionable strategies and best practices, the report reflects the last three years of meticulous research and collaboration with the likes of VISA, MTN MoMo and M-PESA to help entrepreneurs boost sales, engage with their audience and thrive in the competitive e-commerce landscape. It invites stakeholders to collaborate in identifying and addressing challenges while appreciating positive aspects and seeking continuous improvement opportunities. 

Findings in the white paper were obtained using 9500+ answers collected and analysed from the questionnaires sent to customers, sellers, and affiliates (including thousands of non-ANKA customers). “In the dynamic African fashion landscape, data-driven insights and knowledge development are essential for successfully manoeuvring the complex fashion value chain. Fashionomics Africa places a high emphasis on market intelligence and data to elevate understanding of this industry and its many dimensions. We’re delighted to partner with Anka for this report,” said Basil Jones, Lead Gender Program and Policy Coordinator at the African Development Bank Group.

“The research and findings presented in this collaboration will play a pivotal role in enhancing the positioning of the African fashion ecosystem and providing deeper insights into e-commerce opportunities,” he added.

Stephen Murray, Managing Director, CrossBoundary Group shared, “The United States is the largest apparel market in the world, but also the most competitive.  With so many brands vying for a share of the $350 billion market, it takes more than just excellence in design to be successful.  With the Anka Growth Club, Africa’s top fashion brands can learn how to better navigate the complexities of the market, forge the right partnerships and access resources specifically to support African exports to the United States.” 

ANKA’s success to date with African entrepreneurs is evident in the findings. The platform currently boasts 20,000 sellers in 100 countries (45 out of the 54 on the continent), over 30,000 users and a million followers culminating in  $50 million transactions in 175 countries in four short years since being founded. ANKA continues to champion the immense possibilities for business owners to thrive and recognizes the need for knowledge in accessing the appropriate resources, strategic partnerships and innovative approaches required for success. 

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